Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Emperor’s Old Clothes

I’ve added a review to the Essays & Reviews section that I wrote shortly after I discovered B.R. Myers’s A Reader’s Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose a few years after its publication following its appearance in a heavily truncated form in the Atlantic Monthly. It was a breath of fresh air then, and still is, though I’ve had many an argument with people who passionately object to its premise, sometimes even before they have read either the book or the essay. It’s that very passion, so reminiscent of a common religious or political mentality, that suggests to me that Myers, if nothing else, must be onto something. I leave it to you to decide if I’m right.

Happy New Year to all, and thanks again for your interest.

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Thanks, and Here’s to You, Michel.

I’d like to thank those of you who have taken the time to read the published stories and essays I’ve posted. I believe writing has always been an interactive activity, even long before the advent of the Internet. Writers need to have a sense of an audience as much as any actor or any other figure who appears before the public. The writing itself takes place in solitude, sometimes debilitating solitude. But the object is always to make a connection. I don’t see any essential difference between writing a story or an essay and buttonholing someone on the street to let them know what you think about the high prices in the local grocery store or to tell them about an accident you just witnessed.

Good writing gets into something deeper, of course. But as a writer you don’t have control over that. Your job is to tell the story or share your thoughts. If the result of that is something that moves the reader or makes them think about something in a different way, all to the good. Writers are storytellers, and even an essay is a kind of story.

I’ve added a new essay, “An Archeology of Thought.” It’s my musings on the work of Michel Foucault. It makes no pretense to saying anything particularly profound about Foucault’s writings. Rather, it’s more in the way of an account of the excitement his books have given me, with an attempt at an explanation why someone as deep and frequently difficult as he is should have reached me with such profound impact. If there are any Foucault fans among you, I’d be delighted to know how much of what I recount in this essay matches your own experience.

Another Essay and Story

More additions: a short story, “The Checkout,” and an essay, “The Top.”

The story is a first-person narrative by an old hand (an old hand) at the art of female seduction…or thinks he is. The essay is a rumination on living at top-of-the-tree level, in more ways than one.

Enjoy. Let me know if you do.